Design: A look at rhetorical pathways.

Design for possibilities. Another thing a designer of games wants to do is produce possible choices a player might choose to take. When you design for this, you have to decide the best course of action you want a player to take.

For example, Surge from dark seer. As you know, surge speeds up the player’s movement through space. Any player choosing to use this ability can use it for three ways. One, scout; two, chase; three flee. Those are the three choices that can be selected. When you design you have to take all of those into consideration.

There is yet another use for this ability though but only when you combine it with, Ion Shell. Ion Shell is an ability that does damage in a radius and you can only attach the area damage to a unit. Now if you have never played dark seer before, you won’t get this but if you have you understand what I am about to bring up. Dark seer has the ability to push a lane, either offensively or defensively in order to strategically placate enemy creeps away from tactical structures or to put allied creeps closer to enemy structures.

The designer of dark seer has created five uses for the hero. The same conclusion can framed from most dota heroes, except blood seeker. I am just kidding. Blood is the black sheep of the game. Everyone picks on him.

When creating routes for your hero to engage in, a designer will want to decide the best course of action. Faulty or meaningless actions are not ones a crafter wants his players to be taking. Main reason, this will be brought up.

Basically, ward economy is really bad in dota. It’s a bad design based on how the game has evolved over the years. It hasn’t been updated to a perfect system. Someone on playdota suggested having watch towers. Yet, that is an even worse system, here is why that is the conclusion.

Wards now give an infinite amount of possibilities for players to place their vision. Seriously, wards can be placed anywhere. Though considering, wards would lose this flavor if they became watch towers. Having its place reduced to a fixed location instead of going anywhere a player chooses is bad for the player.
Also this takes out an integral strategy  for players which is wars over where wards can be placed. Right now, a player can take out an enemy ward by placing sentries to counter the observers. Basically, Sentries provide vision of stealth content, while observers gives the ability to see in a wide area. A non-player can see how this can be important. A player can spot an enemy that is trying to surprise attack them, or a player can see if enemies are using roshan or the jungle to gain extra gold.

These are the things that can be calculated from having vision. It’s very obvious how important it is. It’s no wonder supports complain to non-gamers about their experience about their teammates nagging them to buy wards.

In a game like Dota, buying your key items is important. Wards can make or break that. Another problem with wards is it takes away experience from the player. What this means is…A player’s character will not be strong enough because they did not stay in an area where gaining stronger spells was an option. This is a drawback because a lot of vision is in inconvenient spots and a lot of players gain experience through being around playable or non-playable characters that have died.

This is why I say this system is outdated. One, it keeps supports out of the battle. Two, ward wars are boring to watch for competitive. Three, it pulls other units away from battles because they have to babysit the warding unit.

This is why high tier players are adjusting by having stealth, high mobility and tanky characters provide vision for the team.

The down fall is that it sets these players behind also. Hopefully valve thinks of a solution though. These are the things that must be thought about when crafting a variable for a game. What variables or mechanics do I want to stifle and which ones do I want the player to explore in greater depth. How much can I get out of this character and what things must I stifle to have a set amount of plays.

Now one thing you do not want to have is too many possibilities. For example, you do not want a character with one hundred possibilities. Mainly, this will cause the player to freeze. A lot of it may become redundant or boring overtime also.

Take Blood Seeker. His silence provided too much freedom, it could poison, it could silence, Not only is this too much for this character but it’s an over use of an ability that can be combined with something else. What Ice did was interesting; he split the ability in two. Part of the ability, it went to the first spell, and the second went into making his new aoe disable. It is a better ability, imo. Some times its better to simplify.


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